Deus Le Volt? “Personal Relationships”, And All That Jazz

I grew up in a Catholic Country. I can vividly remember the time when:

1. No one spoke of his “personal relationship” with Jesus.

2. No layman had a “ministry”, and

3. No one was “moved (or “called”) by the Holy Ghost” to do something.

To this day I can’t avoid being shocked atvthe way some Catholic commenters on the forums (or fora) I read around express themselves. It sounds to me as Protestant as that other habit, of quoting bible verses; as if the Devil could not quote the Bible himself, for his own purposes, at pleasure.

Let us see this a bit more in detail.

1. The traditional Catholic way of looking at the relationship with Jesus does certainly not exclude that this relationship be personal in an obvious way. But the Catholic always sees himself as part of the Church, and he puts this simple fact at the centre of his “relationship”. It’s a collective bond as much as it is an individual one.

The traditional Christian (= pre-Protestant) way of praying very often (not always: think of the Angele Dei) in the plural expresses this cooperative endeavour in a very natural way. Even in the “you and I”, the Catholic mixes the community of the faithful. For a Catholic, it’s always “we”.

The “personal relationship”, on the other hand, smells too much of “two-people rule”, which opens a huge door to any kind of, well, Made-to-measure “personal” rules (interestingly enough, you will notice that seriously orthodox people tend to avoid, even in Anglo-Saxon Countries, the “personal relationship” thing). They are, in my experience, also those for whom Jesus is The Awesomely Awesome Buddy. Not surprising, then with a friend it’s very easy to adjust to each other’s shortcoming, and tailor the relationship to preferred, individualised, and highly convenient patterns of behaviour.

2. The one with the “ministry” was also not heard as I was growing. I would, actually, not even know how to properly say it in my language. Again, it’s not that it cannot be said that every faithful has a role to play; but where I come from, “ministry” was a matter for the priest. Of whom there were, by the by, an awful lot, which probably further discouraged such usages even when the verbiage of V II was introduced in Church life. A layman who would spoken to us about his “ministry” would have been looked at as a funny kind of alien, in the best of cases.

3. Lastly, there is this habit – which grates me most in a Catholic – of saying that the Holy Ghost prompted one to do or not do something, etc. I find the phrase, and the mentality that is behind that, appalling to the point of quasi-blasphemy, and arrogant beyond words. If I (I mean: not St Francis or Padre Pio, but yours truly personally) were so presumptuous as to say to you that “the Holy Ghost inspired me to write a blog”, the inevitable consequence would be to claim for myself not only a special status as “favoured weapon of the Lord” but even, unavoidably, a status of quasi-infallibility for everything I write; it being not really thinkable that the Holy Ghost prompts me to write a blog and is then baffled and surprised at the bad quality of what I write, and all the errors with which I confuse the faithful.

The simple truth is that neither I nor anyone else can make such claims. We know that Providence is at work, but it is not for us to claim to be the help for it sent by the Lord Himself. We do our best as our lights allow us, and we hope that when the day of the redde rationem comes there will be some approval in heaven for what we have done on this earth; procuring us, if we are lucky, some brownie points against the multitude of horrible sins we – I, at least – have committed in our life, and for which I am deeply, deeply ashamed.


I must say that I keep reading these statements in blogs and comments. I suspect that many of them come from former Protestants, who have brought with them a forma mentis that is not the traditional Catholic one. Still, in many cases the influence of the V II newspeak, or of the many Prods in one’s circle of friends and acquaintances, must play a role. It is clear by assisting to certain Catholic Masses that everyone is invited to feel like a MiniMe Messiah, and rejoice at his own’s goodness. I wonder…

I am no Messiah. I have no claim of Official Endorsement. I am a wretched sinner, ashamed of his sinfulness. Just so you know…

Therefore, I will not write a blog, and cry Deus le volt.

As far as this little effort is concerned, I hereby declare the Holy Ghost entirely innocent of whatever piece of senseless drivel and unspeakable bollocks I might have been writing in these commenting and blogging years; senseless drivel and unspeakable bollocks which I dare to declare fully non-existent in my activity of both blogger and commenter; but for which blogging and commenting activity I for myself would even even think of claiming some sort of divine placet.

This little blog aims at defending and promoting Catholic orthodoxy. It does so in a highly personal way, the fruit of the traits – good or bad – of its author’s character. As Catholic truth can be learnt by everyone of sound disposition, there is no need – even if there was the desire – to claim special patents of inspiration. If you think this blog does its job well say a prayer, in your charity, for this wretched sinner. If you think it doesn’t I kindly ask you to avoid it, without being obnoxious and time-waster. In both cases, do not think that my pen is led by anything else than my good will and sincere love for Christ and His Church.



Posted on September 1, 2014, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hear, hear. Something about all of those items make one get the willies. Feels very Pharisaical to me. Unfortunately, I think we as Catholics have been put upon to be more ‘touchy feely’ like the Proddies, and therefore many of us have attempted to adopt their loud mega-church preacher Kumbaya-esque attitudes and sayings. Can anyone say ‘Praise and Worship?’

    Makes me want to put on my ’emotionless rosary face.’ 😉

  2. I have offered a prayer for you.

    I really dislike the ‘ministry’ business!. On the local ‘Catholic’ radio station, there is one program I like to listen to. But the commercials make me irritable. There is a woman who calls herself the ‘communication evangelist’ and she offers suggestions for better communication. There are various ‘Catholic’ bible schools, and these ministries seem also to be run by women mostly, and they helpfully interpret the meaning of the Scriptures for our benefit. IF I attended a NO church, I would have been driven out by all of the ministries!

  3. Yes! Spot on.
    I suspect that in many ways much of what is today couched in this language of “my calling” was around before VII but was never conceived in such terms.

    There were, for example, many Catholic old-ladies who spent as much time as they could saying the rosary for X, Y or Z reasons (the souls in purgatory with no-one to pray for them, conversion of sinners, etc) but who never once adopted the language of “my ministry is one of intercessions”. They might have been ‘moved by the Holy Spirit’ or simply their own conscience – the distinction, it seems to me is moot: a well-formed conscience is surely a product of the Holy Spirit’s work on many levels. The Spirit moves on an individual level, of course, but this was never something people spoke of – nor conceived of – in these protestant-evangelical terms.

    If people spoke of a ‘their calling’ it was assumed they were considering Holy Orders or a consecrated life. Nowadays people have a “calling” to read the epistle at the local Nervous Ordeal, to lead the rosary after Mass, to post in the comments section of blogs, or to attend a ‘meditation group’ and talk endlessly about how contacting the inner essence is essential to one’s spiritual life and growth while quoting Hans Kung. (Sorry, that last example is a real life skin-crawler I’ve just experienced this past weekend — may God call them to shutting up and reading sound Catholic teaching!)

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